Archives for posts with tag: walnuts

I’ve totally lost touch with my blog.  I’ve been trying to write a post for ages, but something was stopping me.  I have no idea what it was, but I put my foot down finally and decided I really want to resume my posts.  They are fun for me and I love the interaction with all of you!  I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but my resolution this year is to get back into blogging and stop making excuses about why I’m not, because there’s no valid reason except my own laziness.  I’m so silly, I will buy things thinking I’ll use them for my blog and they sit untouched.  I’m sure some of you with blogs know what I’m talking about.

I didn’t really fall off the wagon from cooking, but I haven’t been as enthusiastic about it as I used to be.  It’s slowly coming back and I’m ready to start up again.  Maybe it’s the winter – winter blues, I guess.  I know there’s lots to cook during the winter, but until recently I was totally uninspired.  Summer produce and colors inspire me.  This is probably also probably why I’ve been thinking once my husband is done residency we NEED to move somewhere warm.  It’s been on my mind for a few weeks now.  I’m craving sun and warmth.

Despite my love for summer, I do have a few winter produce favorites.  Most notable are beets.  I almost always have them on-hand.  Must have something to do with the color, I suspect.  As I’ve said before I’m a sucker for vibrant colors.  To the same effect, I buy watermelon radishes ALL THE TIME, not because I love thetaste, but more that I love the way they look.  For this dish there were no watermelon radishes, unfortunately.  But this tart is good with whatever you have on hand: mushrooms, spinach, caramelized onions – you name it.  I used to be daunted by making dough, but now I’ve formulated my own proportions and it works every time like a charm.  This sort of tart is one of my go-to dishes.  Although it does take some time, it is by no means difficult to make.

Roasted Beet and Carrot Tart

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

for the crust:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, frozen

up to 1/4 cup ice water

filling:

6 ounces goat cheese, softened

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence

salt and black pepper, to taste

for top:

2 golden beets

2 carrots

1/4 cup chopped parsley and chives, or any herbs of your choice, for garnish

Method

Roast the beets in the oven (at 350 degrees) in a foil pouch on a baking tray drizzled with some olive oil, salt, and pepper for 45 minutes or until cooked.  At the 30 minute mark add in the  whole carrots, also tossed with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once cooked, slice the beets and carrots into thin slices.

To make the tart dough: in a food processor, add the walnuts and pulse until they turn into a fine grind, add in the flour, sugar, and salt and pulse until combined.  Grate the frozen butter and add it to the flour.  Pulse until the mixture forms pea-sized clumps.  Next, through the top, stream in the ice water, one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball.  Once the dough comes together, cover it in plastic wrap and refridgerate for at least an hour.  After the dough has chilled, roll it out and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and blind bake (cover it with foil and use pie weights or dried beans to weigh down the crust, so that it doesn’t puff up while baking) it in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.

For the filling: whisk the goat cheese, ricotta, and egg together.  Add in the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.  Pour it into the partially baked crust and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  After 15 minutes, take it out of the oven and arrange the cut beets and carrots over the goat cheese and ricotta and bake for another 10-15 minutes.  Garnish the tart with chopped parsley and chives, or any herb of your choice.  You can also sprinkle the final product with some flaky sea salt and drizzle with olive oil, if you like.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Lamb chops are something that have always daunted me.  I save lamb for restaurants where a more experienced chef can masterfully prepare them for me without the stress and over thinking that would be occurring in my kitchen.  The pros can  handle red meat better than I can.  What I’m scared of the most is overcooking a good piece of meat.  Why spend the money and then “accidentally” cook a juicy steak or lamb chop to well-done.  (No offense to those who like their meat well-done.)

My husband has been asking me to make him rack of lamb for five years.  Five years!  I’ve tried to maneuver my way around the issue and make him roasted leg of lamb or lamb shank.  But something about the rack of lamb scared me.  Every year on his birthday, he requests rack of lamb and every year I get myself out of it.  Since this year we have celebrated five birthdays together, I just made the dive and we both went to the butcher and got the rack of lamb.  I needed the support, that’s why we both went.

Once we got home, I contemplated what I should do with the lamb, the over thinking had begun.  After all, I’ve eaten lamb many many times at restaurants, so I calmed myself down and went with my instincts.  Herbs became the main attraction followed by lemon and nuts.  I raided my pantry and came up with a herb, walnut, lemon, capers crusted lamb.  I let it marinate so the flavors would penetrate the meat.

I roasted it and it came out perfectly, medium rare bordering medium.  (I do love steaks at medium-rare, but for me, lamb needs to be cooked a tad bit more.)  While it was roasting I also prepared a shallot and dijon sauce, which was lovely with the lamb.  When we sliced through the rack, I finally got over my fear and could do it again and again.  The end result makes you want to step back in the kitchen and expand your culinary horizons.  For now I’ve tackled rack of lamb, let’s see what comes up next.

Rack of Lamb with a Walnut and Herb Crust

Serves 2 with leftovers

Ingredients

1 french rack of lamb, 8 chops in total

1 cup chopped fresh herbs (mint, parsley, thyme, chives) + extra for garnish

5 cloves of garlic

juice and zest of 2 lemons + plus extra for garnish

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup toasted walnuts

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup olive oil

salt and black pepper, to taste

for the sauce:

olive oil

2 shallots or 1 large shallot finely chopped

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 cups chicken or beef stock

1 heaping tablespoon crème fraîche

fresh chopped parsley

salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

To make the crust: in a food processor, combine the herbs with the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, capers, walnuts, flour, salt and pepper.  Pulse lightly until everything is crumbly yet a little sticky.

Salt and pepper the rack of lamb and then cover both sides with the crust and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours.

Before baking preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake the lamb in an oven-safe pan or dish for 25 minutes.  If you like your meat cooked well-done, add another 7-10 minutes.

While the lamb is roasting, prepare the sauce.  In a saute pan, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan on medium heat and once it comes to temperature, add in the shallots and cook until translucent and on the verge of turning light brown.  At this point, add in the Dijon mustard, chicken or beef stock, salt, black pepper and allow it to reduce.  Once reduced to your liking, add in the crème fraîche and parsley.  Once the lamb is cooked, let it rest outside the oven covered in aluminum foil for 15 minutes. Serve the lamb with the sauce and garnish with some fresh lemon and chopped herbs.

I also added some asparagus in the pan with the lamb, towards the end of cooking.  I served the lamb with a sunchoke mash as well.

Sorry, I haven’t posted all week!  I’ve had a nasty cold and sore throat and haven’t been able to wear my contacts lenses for a few days therefore, I can’t see anything.  My glasses are practically useless due to an eye condition I have that requires hard lenses.  This is not an ophthalmology blog so I will not bore you with these details.  Basically, I am blindly typing this, so please bear with me. 🙂  Over the weekend I thought I was feeling better, so I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies.  I was suffering from acute cabin fever and thought chocolate chip cookies would be the ONLY things that could make me feel better.  Though they did taste good, they did not help with my sore throat.  😦  The power of the cookie failed me in that regard, but I do think these were the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made.

I added homemade salted carmel to the batter because I like that deep taste and dimension it adds to the cookies.  I contemplated adding fleur de sel to the carmel, but then I thought why do I need to be all pretentious with chocolate chip cookies, kosher salt will work just fine for this application.  I also included a little peanut butter in the batter, not so much that you could easily discern it, but just enough that it added extra body to the cookie.  To me, a chocolate chip cookie HAS to have nuts.  I love the texture and the crunch, therefore, I poured in some toasted walnuts.  I put oats in these cookies as well.  I love the heartiness they bring to the cookie.  I added about 3/4 of a cup so that they would be a subtle texture enhancer, rather than being a full on oatmeal cookie.

These cookies were a little flat, they were not dense.  I like that aspect of them.  No, they weren’t flat like pancakes but sometimes a dense cookie is bland to me.  These were just right for my taste buds.  And, oh my, the raw cookie dough was incredible as well.  I probably ate the equivalent of 10 cookies in dough.  Oh well, the cold had me down and I needed something to cheer me up and these most certainly did.  Plus, I think any food blog is absolutely incomplete without at least one choclate chip cookie recipe.  If you don’t like chocolate chip cookies, I can easily say we will NEVER be friends HEHE *kidding*.

Salted Caramel and Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from the cookie portion of the Dream Bar recipe from Gourmet Magazine

Makes about 30 large cookies

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 rolled oats

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup salted caramel, optional (I halved this recipe and added 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon of butter at the end)

1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter, optional

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (8 ounces)

1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted, optional

Method

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  After sifting, mix the oats into the flour mixture.  In another bowl cream together sugars and butter using an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until light yellow and fluffy.  Add in the eggs and beat with the electric mixer for another 2 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla, caramel, and peanut butter for another minute.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture on low speed until all of it is combined.   Next, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts.  I had some caramel left over and folded it in lightly so there would be some caramel swirls in the cookies.  Lighlty grease a baking tray and place heaping tablespoonfuls on batter on the tray.  Bake each batch for 10-12 minutes, or until light brown.  Allow to cool on a cooling rack,  then devour!